Neighborhood wakes to murder

ELKHART – People who live near Melody Lane in Elkhart say it’s a quite place, but on Tuesday morning some neighbors woke to learn the dead body of 26-year-old Jessica Starr was found outside a home on the 28000 block of the street. Neighbors said Starr started staying with a co-worker because she was trying to get out of a bad relationship.

Casey Casselman ‘s house faces the scene of the crime on County Road 5. He said people who live on the street are still in disbelief.

“It was a complete shock to me and my neighbors were in shock when they woke up this morning. And I’m still in shock and I haven’t had much sleep because I’ve been up since one o’clock last night,” said Casselman.

He said he woke up and saw a police car parked next to his mailbox. When he noticed all of the police tape wrapped around his neighbor’s yard, he knew that wasn’t a good sign. “I knew something wasn’t right because usually there’s a tragedy when something is roped off like that,” said Casselman.

Casselman said he didn’t know Starr because a lot of people move in and out of the neighborhood, but was surprised by the events of Monday night. “Not in my 40 years of being here. I haven’t seen anything like this,” said Casselman.

Casselman said it would be easy for crime to happen at night in the neighborhood because there aren’t any street lights along Melody Lane. “It’s awful dark down there at night time. I mean where she lived its pitch black. You can’t see anything. And it’s easy for somebody to get robbed out here because there’s not much light,” said Casselman.

The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department hasn’t released the cause of death, but an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

Deputies said they do have a person of interest, but didn’t call them a suspect.

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